Changing The Game: A Seminar Calling For Sustainability In Golf

Post by Hannah Harvey

Golf courses have gone under increased scrutiny in recent years due to resource usage. This has resulted in public outcry against the building of new courses and the continued existence and management of current ones. However, golf courses act as green spaces that become increasingly important in urban and suburban environments. Living next to a golf course, as well as having family members that are avid fans of the sport while being a zoology major, made me interested in the value of golf courses for native species.

Six deer are standing on a green golf course as the focal point Some are eating, some are laying down, and some are looking at a man with his golf clubs on a hill nearby. The deer seem undisturbed by the man. There is a tree near the deer, with more trees further in the background. The hill the man is standing on has a sand bunker behind him.
           Don DeBold via Flicker

The issue at hand was that all golf courses are designed the same general way, regardless of the environment they are placed in. This causes conflict with resource use, especially water use and maintenance. I knew I wanted to argue for changes in designs of golf courses that adapted them to the local environment, and therefore, becoming mini nature reserves for native species. However, I needed to think of reasons why the shareholders I decided to focus on-golf course developers and owners- would be interested in changing the design of golf courses. While my specific interest is in wildlife conservation and ways to improve sustainability of human activity, I knew that the only way to reach my shareholders was to look at their perspective and adjust my call to action accordingly. This led to honing in on arguing for reducing costs and improving public views on golf courses by making the change.

I started by looking into studies and opinion pieces that showed public opposition to golf courses and the arguments behind them. I then looked at arguments that offered support for golf courses. This included looking at studies for how different animal species used the space provided by golf courses. I also looked at conflicts that would be had when it comes to encouraging wild animals to use an area frequented by humans in order to give myself a deeper understanding of what problems my shareholders may have with my proposal. I also looked at the data on resource use on golf courses around the world. Overall, my research gave me a well-rounded look into the concerns of multiple shareholder groups that let me make a better argument when I dialed in my focus on just two shareholder groups: golf course developers and golf course owners.

After going over different ideas on how to best reach my focused shareholders, I ultimately decided to make a script for a potential seminar that would be held in front of shareholders. I wanted to make the experience more interactive and similar to TED Talks in how it was designed. The seminar would act as a call to action for my shareholders that was engaging and involved the audience with a question section at the end to address concerns. I wanted to be able to present my case with relevant information, but also build in acknowledgment of the audience. Of course, without actually holding a seminar, I had no questions to make transcripts of, so that was left out of the final draft.

This project was a fun overall experience since it was so open-ended and self-guided. The topic ideas came purely from my own head and directly correlated to my interests. I was able to look at what interested me in a new way that was different than how I thought I was going to spin my proposal initially. Figuring out the best ways to communicate with the parties I wanted to focus on reaching was a challenge that forced me to really look at perspectives outside my strict area of interest (wildlife conservation).

Hannah Harvey from Owasso, OK, is a senior at the University of Wyoming majoring in Zoology.


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